Whether she considers it or not, half-Japanese, half-British, London-based Erika Bowes is building a legacy that will last. The 21-year-old photographer, stylist and co-founder of Sukeban magazine (Japanese for "girl boss" — Sophia Amoruso is quaking in her Jeffrey Campbell Litas), which is set to release its premier issue this month, quickly conquered the Instagram game through a series of sparkle-filled looks and is not far off from also making the fashion and publishing industries her own. We caught up with one of PAPER's most beautiful to talk critique, cutting corners, and the power in collaboration.
When (and where) are you most creative?
When I'm traveling for sure, meeting new people to collaborate with and being in new spaces really gets my imagination going!
How did you get your start?
I'm not sure I've really broken into the industry I want to work in yet. I'm pretty new to it all and learning a lot, as well as making plenty of mistakes.
What are you working on right now? Can you describe any current projects or activities?
I'm currently just full time working on the magazine I co-founded, Sukeban, and getting more content up on that. I'm also doing a few personal and commissioned photography jobs which is exciting!
What is success to you?
Being excited by my work and happy with the outcome. I hate releasing work if I've rushed or it's not exactly what I'm trying to communicate.
Do critics matter?
Yes, I mean getting bad feedback sucks but it really helps to push me to do more.
Obviously you've seen success in your career but can you tell us about a time you failed?
A lot of my jobs fall through or don't go as well as planned. Recently, I did a shoot and I really wasn't happy with my images and I could tell the team were disappointed, too, but it's important for me to have these experiences because it reminds me I still need more practice and not to jump into the deep end.
Do you think about legacy?
Not at all -- should I be?
What advice do you have for someone looking to break into your industry?
Whatever it is you're doing make sure you love it. Make sure you are well educated and willing to learn and take advice from people. Never try to cut corners with your craft!
Did you ever give up (or want to give up)? What were the circumstances?
Yes, a lot of the time, especially when I work on a non-profit magazine. Having no financial backing on the magazine is frustrating and it can sometimes feel like no-one really believes in what you're doing or wants to support you. But it's a lot more complicated than that and it's not always the case.
What trends in your field do you find most exciting / are you most optimistic about? What about your field is frustrating? What would you like to see change?
I love accessories so anything glittery and embellished is always a yes from me. I find cultural appropriation by big designers frustrating. Seeing traditional dresses, accessories, etc. worn just for fashion purposes is just bad taste really.
How do you plan to build on your success so far? Is there anything you fear will set you back?
Continue working with people who inspire me (I believe collaboration is so important in this industry and giving other people opportunities to succeed) and continue to create personal projects rather taking only paid jobs as I feel my work is more powerful and meaningful that way.
What was the first moment you knew you were going to be able to do this as a job – not necessarily your first big break or success, but the first time you thought, "This is it, this is my career"?
Ahhhh, I still don't think about that yet. I'm really all over the place in terms of what exactly I want to be. I am really enjoying trying lots of different things I'm passionate about right now. So we shall see in a few years. But I'm pretty restless, I hate being in one place for a long time.
What's been the biggest choice you've had to make in your career so far?
I can't say I've had any life-changing decisions recently.
What is your morning routine like?
I am a natural early riser, I love mornings lol. And green tea, I hate coffee! My Japanese mother raised me on tea, haha. I always eat breakfast, then I go to the gym before I start working.
What are you most excited about for the future? (Can be about your career, your personal life, the world - anything.)
I've got a lot of travel planned for the next two years and hopefully living in the States for a short while (I'm lucky my job is on the internet (mostly) so I can travel more). Also people are starting to recognize my photography work more and I'm getting more jobs so thats really rewarding for me!
What are you most worried about for the future?
I'm pretty worried about this planet right now.
Are you good at giving advice? What is the best advice you've ever given?
I'm good (I think), my advice is truthful and can be quite harsh but someone has to tell people what they know is true and don't want to hear.
Are you good at receiving advice? What is the best advice you've ever received?
Yes, my friends and I are all so open so it's really nice to call my friend and tell them about something embarrassing and they'll know how to help. Best advice: "If you can't afford to buy it twice then you can't afford to buy it."
What makes a person beautiful? What makes you beautiful?
Their generosity and time. As for myself, uhhhhhh, I don't know D:
What are you most proud of?
My friend Yuki (she is also co-founder of Sukeban), she's been working really hard this year on making her clothing collection and she has some exciting stuff coming out which I've been able to help her a little on!
Check out the rest of our Beautiful People here.
Photo courtesy Erika Bowes